Simplifying life

As many of you know we are moving out if the desert; with this move comes downsizing.  I have no problem with that: it’s cathartic to get rid of things you don’t need anymore. However I didn’t realize how much I had expanded in two years in the big house we are in. We’ve been making lists and lists of things that need to get done, things to be sold, thrown out, donated. That was all fine and good while I was just sort of going around the house seeing what I didn’t need anymore. Then one day D says to me, “You know, why don’t we try to move into a three bedroom apartment while we are still here?” Now that would mean that I have to downsize and simplify my 4 bedroom, family room, three car garage house down to 1200 square feet with no extra storage. At first I thought, “Ok, no problem, I don’t have that much stuff, some books, some fabric, some kitchen utensils.” But then this week and mainly this weekend, I began to really downsize. That’s when I suddenly felt overwhelmed by how I had expanded my living to this big house.

We had already been feeling for a few months that the house was to big for us and for the girls right now. So downsizing and simplifying will be a welcome change albeit a laborious one for me to make. I started by moving all the books out of the family room into my crafting room. They of course could not all fit so I went through them all four or five times and ended up selling 90 dollars worth of books to the used book store. I still have half of those left to sell at my garage sale. The garage sale is going to be of epic proportions! It will certainly be one of those jackpot garage sales where you find things like William Sonoma cook books and dutch ovens, baby clothes and wooden toys.

We tackled the kitchen this weekend. I’m glad we did because this house has a lot of extra storage. It was really great, but I filled it all up with canning and drying foods. So I had to go through it all and what I found appalled me. I had stored up so much food and lost track of it. It has caused me to think about having a food storage list. One that can be updated constantly so nothing goes bad. I basically went shopping in my own pantry and found so much food I won’t need to buy any bulk goods for at least a month!

What this has lead me to is a serious re-thinking about simplification. This move will be a very good way to start a life that is filled with less things and more experiences. I’ve experienced a large house and now know that we don’t need it. This simplifying will give me the opportunity to get rid of excess and really think about what things I need in my house. Whenever I buy something new/used I can spend the time thinking about the place it will occupy in my home and the material it is made of. I am determined to make a serious effort into not bringing plastic into our house. That includes thinking about the containers of the store bought items that I buy.

Lastly, I am throwing away a bits and pieces of my ego. The life that I thought I wanted to lead. Remnants of a life that was never really going to come to fruition. Mainly all the stuff I had saved from college is gone, except my degree.

I’ve put down a family rule that anything brought into our house will be mindfully bought, not bought on impulse. With children it’s very easy to want to impulse buy even if it is some awesome wooden toy or education book. I will be thinking now about what space there is for it. Can it be used daily or displayed out in the open? Is it made of a natural material?

This change is scary and fulfilling. It feels so good to do something so drastic. So there are  no pictures, I’ve been to busy to even think about the camera!

I would love to hear your experience with downsizing or de-cluttering. Is it scary or do you welcome it with open arms. Are you mindful about the items that come into your home?

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16 Responses to Simplifying life

  1. Amy says:

    When I was single, KC, I moved a lot…same area, different houses or apartments. Each time, I went through everything I owned, and winnowed down to the most necessary items, or things that had real sentimental value. Some things just stayed in boxes from move to move, and from that I learned that so many things I thought I needed, I really didn’t need at all. Because if you’re not digging through a box looking for it, it can’t be that important, right?! And even though I’ve lived in our house for nearly 8 years now, we have almost no storage, which turns out to be a good thing. We try to go through the house and garage about twice a year, and make donations of those things we don’t need or want anymore.

    As for your garage sale, any chance of a preview the day or night before? That is, if I don’t have a newborn at the time of it…might be hard for me to get over to you early enough on garage sale day, and I know you have lots of cute girl clothes you might be ready to part with :)

    I think what you’re doing is great, from the down-sizing, to getting out of the desert…green, and seasons call to me!

    Amy

    • KC says:

      Your house is such an inspiration. I love that it is free of stuff. I always feel so free to move about there. I totally agree about the boxes too. I’ve taken the if I haven’t touched this while I’ve lived here then it has to go. It’s mind boggling what has to go. The things I’ve been keep seem so silly now. Like photo copies from my photography classes. I haven’t read them since the class why hang on to it? One day I might need inspiration again? D is so good about getting rid of stuff. He has almost nothing in this house. A hand full of books and a PS3.

      The green and seasons are what motivate us everyday! The thought of crunching leaves in the fall and taking walks under cool oak trees fills this family with joy. IT will be sad to leave our friends here but our family unit will be happier for it.

  2. Emily says:

    I love getting rid of all the crap we manage to let into our home. We go through our house at least once a year. Before we owned a home and we moved frequently so it was a great motivator to let go of all the unnecessary items we aquired. Now that we’ve lived in the same home since 2009 it’s been hardered to see how much we hang on to. We live in a 900sqft house so it’s not like we have a lot of extra space. I just went though our closests and donated a bunch of clothes and we cleaned the garage out. Next I need to tackle the kitchen. As I wrtie this I still find myself wishing I live close enough to go to your garage sale.

    • KC says:

      900 square feet is tiny winy! But it works for keep to minimal stuff for sure! The kitchen has been really hard as I use everything. Hopefully our next place on the coast will have a well built kitchen. :) I wish you could come to this sale, there are a lot of things you might like.

  3. Leah says:

    This is our 4th house and it’s our smallest. Despite the growing family, I’ve learned that I don’t need square footage or storage if the layout is right for living. Having said that, we are in the early stages of planning a family room addition. For years we thought we’d need another bedroom (possibly a master suite) but we now realize that with 3 active boys running around, what we will really be wanting is more living area–space for the boys to be boys, space for the family to play games and watch movies, a den with a door where family and friends can have some privacy when they visit. I do really believe that when you have a big house with lots of storage, you just buy more stuff to fill it up! I love the fact that we have to be very mindful of what we bring in to our house, and that we regularly have to purge and keep things organized. Excited for this lifestyle change for you! Maybe you’d consider a pre-sale for your local blog readers? :)

    • KC says:

      A pre-sale for readers is great idea :) And friends for that matter. It will be held in october. Until then I keep adding to it multiple times a day. :)-

      The family room sounds like a great idea. That’s what we have here in this house too, only we also have a living room which doesn’t get used except for the occasional movie watching by me and D. I realize that three bedroom, two bathrooms, good working kitchen and a good size family/learning room will fit us just right. One day maybe I can have a little shed/studio like thing as well for all my creative pursuits.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I am a huge fan of de-cluttering and getting rid of things. My husband, not so much. :) Luckily, he doesn’t accumulate too much and I’ve just accepted that he’s got a few boxes of sentimental things and other random stuff and if it’s stowed away in our closet, then it doesn’t bother me too much. I pretty much always have a few places in the house on my mental to-do list to tackle and clean out when I have time. When we moved 1.5 years ago, we went from a 800 sq. ft. house to a 1500 sq. ft. house and we have filled up the additional space, but there is also way more open space between the furniture and it is a better size for the four of us. Jeff actually has a dedicated office space which he uses every day and there is more space for company. I like the idea of really loving the things in your home and if you find use and beauty in them, then by all means, keep them. If they are not of use or haven’t been used in a long time, then they should find a new home! And, definitely, exercising some self-discipline about not bringing new things into the home is the key to keeping the clutter down in the future! Not always the easiest task, for sure. I’ll be curious to check out the kitchen stuff at your garage sale!

    • KC says:

      Our new place will need to have three bedrooms for a dedicated office, but the rest I hope to have lots of open play space and really well organized storage. I grew up playing outside in the open mesa most of my life. I want that open outdoor space for my girls too.

      As for the garage sale I think I will do a day before thing for friends :)

  5. Three years ago we moved from the States back to Canada. An international move means duty and import fees so we sold what we could, donated,and threw out all but the very essentials. It was hard and freeing all at the same time. Once a year I go through the house and purge. We moved a lot pre kids. At one point we could move everything we owned in a car! Simplifying can be very good for the soul, and being mindful as to what is coming in is the best way to keep it all out. As a previous poster said, you don’t need lots of space, you just need good usable, clutter free space.
    Good luck on your move!

    • KC says:

      Everything in just a car that’s really incredible! I’m starting to think about having 7 or less of things the come in multiples. In Simplicity Parenting he talks about having only 7 toys, 7 books and so on. Maybe I can transfer that over to the whole house. Whoa!

      We almost move to England 5 years ago right before the economy tanked. That would have had us selling everything except our clothes. That would have been so freeing!

      This move across the country makes me think about the pioneers or immigrants taking only the bear essentials. What can I fit into a wagon?

  6. I love decluttering and simplifying. It is a yearly if not bi yearly project here. It always feels so good. Stuff never really piles up because we don’t buy a lot and with a good purge at least once a year there is no time for stuff to pile up. I find I can let go of stuff much easier now then I could years ago, maybe becoming a mom has allowed me to release some of those things I was hanging onto…who knows. We live in a small home, just under 1000 square feet, there are two closets and no basement. We do have a garage but it is Justin’s workshop so there is no storage there. We are careful about what we buy because there just isn’t room for a lot of extras in our home. It makes buying decisions pretty easy…do we really need it is the first question and where will we put it is the second question. We usually leave the store empty handed :)

    Enjoy the process KC.

    • KC says:

      Sounds just about right! Especially since you spend so much time outside, who needs more room…

      The more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of other things. I remember before kids D and I used to be able to travel with only one suitcase for both of us. Maybe I should take the policy to our own house!

  7. Angi says:

    I came over from the Whole Foods Workshop and enoyed poking around your blog. Three years ago we moved into the largest home we’ve ever lived in 2700sq ft. We were so excited. We have 6 children and there was room for everyone to have their own space. Last year we began looking for a house and a little land to buy and bought a home almost half the size (1500 sq ft.). I’m thankful every day that we didn’t buy a larger home. Even with teenagers and a toddler our space is adequate. I also like that we can have it everything polished and clean with from top to bottom in a very short time. There was never a time where every room in our big house was clean and it was completely overwhelming to me. I thinkj you’ll really enjoy having a smaller home.

    • KC says:

      Wow, 2700 that’s a lot of space. Our current place is 2300. 1500sq ft. I think would be just perfect. I’m glad you have found a good balance. :)

      I’m also glad you came over. I really look forward to take the course. Please keep in touch!

  8. heather says:

    oh kc i can relate to this post. the last time i moved i was shocked at how much stuff we had accumulated in our then tiny apartment. the blog community has really opened my eyes to living with a simpler space and i’m so thankful for all of the inspiration and gentle reminders to keep examing what we bring into our home. good luck with all of your purging!

    • KC says:

      Thanks! I’m still working at it every day since I posted this. It’s really crazy how adding two kids to the mix, quadruples the amount of stuff you have! I think we’ll all be so much happier for it. It is wonderful to have so much support online. :)

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